Migrant Heroes and Model Children: Mobilising Development in Filipino Transnational Households and Communities

Presented by Cheryll Alipio,

Lecturer in Anthropology, School of Social Science, University of Queensland

12:00 Wednesday 30rd September 2015

Paul Barratt Lecture Theatre, Psychology Building S06, UNE


As the largest migrant sending country in Asia, the Philippines has institutionalised mechanisms in mobilising the economic contribution of both overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and their families as nation and community building strategies. However, previous literature on migrant households and economies have focused on the reasons why migrants remit and the developmental potential of their labour. It also assumes that adults are the key actors in these transnational, gendered practices. These studies subsequently render children’s participation in the migration process as invisible as well as their contribution to sustaining individual, familial, and community livelihoods. By treating children not solely as objects of care and protection but as economic agents, who mediate on and manipulate cultural and financial debts and the money received from OFW parents, this seminar challenges conventional analyses about the circulation of remittances in transnational migrant households and communities. The exploration of how overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and left-behind children are embedded in development initiatives that award “migrant heroes” and “model children” also reveal the mobilisation of particular selfhoods that are affectively built on accountability, productivity, and rationalisation.


Dr. Cheryll Alipio is a Lecturer in Anthropology in the School of Social Science at The University of Queensland and received her Ph.D. from the University of Washington, Seattle. Her co-edited special section on “Asian Children and Transnational Migration” was recently published in Children’s Geographies. Her research and teaching interests include transnational migration, gender and development, economic anthropology, anthropology of care, Southeast Asia and the Philippines.